Two people that are very close to me are relatively recently single and dating. Hearing their individual experiences made it abundantly clear that dating and dieting are eerily similar.
I honestly can’t believe I didn’t think of this analogy earlier.
The process for online dating is pretty straight forward. You look at potential candidates on paper (their bio) and decide if it’s worth pursuing a conversation.
Then, one person reaches out to the other and an exchange occurs. If the conversation isn’t a total disaster (you know like nude pics weren’t sent in the first 5 minutes), and if there’s a little chemistry, you decide to meet in person.
That process is almost identical to choosing a diet. You read the bio of a diet, make a judgment call about whether it will be a total disaster or not, and then give it a go (read: take it on a date).
The First Date
The first date is typically uncomfortable. Lots of surface-level conversation and small talk while you’re feeling each other out.
The initial stages of a new diet are similar. You’re more focused on the surface level particulars… what foods do I need to shop for, how many meals per day, do I need to bring my lunch to work.. that sort of thing.
After a few dates, your emotional investment in the person you’re dating begins to increase. You continuously learn new things about that person and the conversation has hopefully progressed to a deeper level.
You start to figure out if your values align, if this person enhances your life, and if they appreciate you for who you are.
Is It Going to Work?
Have you ever been in a relationship with somebody who wanted you to be someone or something that you’re not? I know I have.
That’s the equivalent of sticking with a diet that clearly isn’t right for you. When you have to overhaul everything that’s important in your life to make a diet work, it’s clearly not going to last long term.
We may stay in that relationship or on that diet for a while, holding out hope that it’ll eventually work out. However, we know deep down in our heart of hearts that it’s just not meant to be.
So what happens when the relationship progresses, you get emotionally invested, and then things don’t work out?
Time to Walk Away
Ideally, you learn from that experience. You should walk away with plenty of things to take away from your time together.
Maybe you learned some things that are super important to you that you didn’t even realize mattered beforehand. Maybe you learned that you have certain non-negotiables that you’re not willing to sacrifice.
That’s the same process for each dietary experience.
If you know my story, you know I have a checkered past when it comes to dieting.
I was basically a diet whore for the better part of a decade.
Look, there’s a reason why sometimes we keep going back to the same kind of person that hurt us before. We haven’t done enough work on ourselves to know our worth or feel like we deserve better.
Have you had that friend that “just keeps attracting the wrong people?”
Or maybe you’ve been there yourself. Yeah… it’s not an accident. It’s not just bad luck.
Overcoming the Mindset Roadblocks
It’s just a matter of not working through some of those mindset roadblocks that are keeping you stuck in the same pattern.
When I kept going back to the same kind of restrictive diets over and over again, it was to fill a void. That cycle would have kept repeating itself if I hadn’t unpacked the issues I was dealing with and using dieting as a means to solve it.
Once you become more self-aware, you’re able to look back at those experiences with gratitude.
All of those past diets taught me about myself. They helped me understand what I needed to be successful long term. I was able to look at my values, my lifestyle, my personal preference, and my personality to then create the dietary protocol that works best for ME.
That is going to look different for everyone.
Just like the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with is unique to YOU… it’s the same thing with your diet.
Personality and Personal Preference
It’s funny because when I mention the importance of personality and personal preference when it comes to nutrition and fitness, I often get skeptical looks.
Like stop telling me that nonsense and just give me the exact details of how I should be eating.
That would be like my sister asking me for dating advice and me telling her: you want a guy that’s 6’1 on the dot, he can’t have a beard, and needs to weigh exactly 197lbs.
Those details are like the “rules” of a diet… Eat this. Don’t eat that. Only eat during these times.
Do you think that personal preference matters? Do you think that each person should be following the same set of rules?
Of course not. So let’s use the same thought process with finding our unique dietary protocol as we do with finding our unique partners.
Finding the Right Partner
What are the things that matter most to you? What are your non-negotiables? Are you able to be yourself? Does this fit with your personality? Are your personal preferences being met? Can you do this for life? Even as you evolve and grow?
That last part is important. Yes, you’re going to continue to evolve and change and grow. Your fitness and nutrition should evolve and change and grow with you. Just like I hope your partner evolves and changes and grows with you.
The similarities between dieting and dating are uncanny.
To summarize… use past (or even current) experiences as learning opportunities. Understand what matters most to you and lean into your values. Be with the person (and diet) that enhances your life and doesn’t expect you to be someone you’re not.
Oh, and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing! You wouldn’t look at someone else’s partner and think that person is who everyone should be dating.
So it stands to reason that Susan’s diet is probably not the way that everyone should be dieting.